DeLuca Again Appointed Maplewood Mayor In Unanimous Vote; Dafis Sworn In As First Gay Committee Member

L to R: Maplewood Township Committee: Nancy Adams, Dean Dafis, Mayor Vic DeLuca, Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee, and Greg Lembrich. Credits: Carl Patterson

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca was officially appointed to the top post for another year at the annual Township Committee (TC) reorganization meeting on Monday, where he also was sworn in to another three-year term on the governing body.

At the same meeting, newly-elected TC member Dean Dafis was sworn in, marking the first time an openly gay member will sit on the committee. Both were voted in during the November election, when they defeated Republican Mike Summersgill.

Dafis replaces former TC member India Larrier who chose not to run again.

Sign Up for E-News

Current TC member Frank McGehee will be Deputy Mayor.

In a sign of diversity, both men were sworn in with their hands on a stack of three religious books – a Christian bible, a Hebrew bible, and a copy of the Quran. The meeting’s invocation, memorial prayer, and benediction were also conducted by representatives of those three faiths.

DeLuca, who was first elected to the TC in 1997 and previously served as mayor from 2001 to 2003, is entering his 10th straight year on the governing body after returning to the top post in 2009, continuing a streak as the second-longest serving mayor in township history. Only former Republican Mayor Robert Grassmere had a longer stint at 20 years.

During his State of the Township address, DeLuca declared the state of Maplewood to be “in excellent shape.” He later added, “The Maplewood brand remains strong and our reputation is very positive. Our town is inviting and welcoming, diverse and inclusive, and a place of choice for those looking to buy a home, open up a business or patronize our restaurants and shops. We remain a safe and vibrant community in which to live and raise a family.”

As has been his practice, DeLuca tallied the accomplishments of the past 12 months that included improved recognition nationally as an LGBT friendly town, new shops and restaurants, housing developments, and growing home and property values.

DeLuca did point out that the Republican tax plan that has hit the property tax deduction could hurt local areas, while noting our position as a commuter line may help.

“Without question, the most difficult state agency we had to deal with last year was New Jersey Transit,” DeLuca continued. “Prior to the ‘Summer of Hell,’ Mayors and other elected officials along the Morris and Essex Rail Line experienced the 'Spring of Disrespect.' It was only by chance in late May that we found out through a governor's press conference that all M&E trains will be diverted to Hoboken. So roughly six weeks before the July track work was to start, local officials were in the dark. NJ Transit ignored and disrespected us throughout the entire planning process. A meeting with NJ Transit officials was finally held on June 7th; the first time we were given an opportunity to comment on the diversion plan, just 33 days before its start. Our commuters made it through the summer, some better than others. The early trains and six buses to the city were a tremendous help. Commuters showed they can be resilient and handle change once we provided them with accurate information on travel options.”

The mayor also pointed to the troubled police department and the claims of abuse that led to the ouster of former Chief Robert Cimino.

“By far, the greatest challenge we faced last year was with our police department,” DeLuca said. “The incident on July 5, 2016 is indefensible and a stain on our community. The horror of that night was made even worse by the delay by the Essex County Prosecutor’s investigation. For nearly a year, the Township Committee’s hands were tied by the internal affairs investigation process. Last June we engaged Hillard Heintze to conduct an independent assessment of the incident. Then on August 1st we placed the chief and captain on administrative leave. Both are no longer working for the Maplewood Police Department. The Township Committee is committed to working with the community to rebuild trust in and confidence with the police. We and Acting Police Chief DeVaul are working with a dedicated group of residents to establish the charter and operating procedures for a Civilian Police Board. We see the creation of this Board as a critical step as we move forward.”

After thanking a lengthy list of supporters and friends, Dafis noted the unity and diversity of Maplewood he saw in his campaign and the need for that effort to continue against negative forces.

“The message of unity in community, one Maplewood for all, not ‘Maplegood’ or ‘Maplehood’ really resonated with so many working families all across town,” Dafis said. “At a time when we are being divided by a national regressive agenda, demoralized and struggling to make ends meet.”

One sign of unity came during the vote for mayor Monday in which all five TC members unanimously chose DeLuca, a sharp break from the vote that occurred just a few weeks ago. 

During the annual TC Democratic caucus on Dec. 19, where the governing body informally chooses the next mayor, the group was divided, 3-2, between DeLuca and TC member Greg Lembrich. DeLuca, Dafis and TC Member Nancy Adams supported DeLuca while Lembrich and TC Member Frank McGehee chose Lembrich.

Dafis’ vote was a last-minute surprise as he himself revealed he had planned to support Lembrich. But during Monday’s official vote, Lembrich and McGehee threw their support to DeLuca with Lembrich making a heartfelt statement about DeLuca and why he is a proper choice to serve as mayor again.

“While I know that Maplewood would continue to benefit from Vic’s experience, leadership and commitment regardless of which chair on the Township Committee he occupies,” Lembrich said. “As our state enters a new administration I am pleased to support him for a 10th consecutive term as mayor. As I’ve said before, Vic is the consummate public servant -- Always going above and beyond to attend every event, listen to every resident and pitch in every time help is needed for something in our community. He sets the tone for this Township Committee and strongly reaffirms our joint commitment to serve all parts of Maplewood, both geographic and democratic.”

Another sign of unity was when Lembrich hugged Dafis after he was sworn in.

All photos courtesy of Carl Patterson of CP Photo Op Photography.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Of Dull Elections, Pool Waivers and Vandalism

After a historic Township Committee election in 2017 that brought us the first openly gay member of the TC, and then a split vote for mayor in which Vic DeLuca retained his post in a last-minute surprise, 2018 could prove to be the dullest campaign in years.

That’s because incumbents Nancy Adams and Greg Lembrich are running unopposed in the upcoming Democratic primary, and no one is ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Man Arrested for Package Thefts

April 20, 2018

April 5 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:15 p.m. officers responded to the Extra Supermarket on Irvington Ave on a reported shoplifter. Jean Legerme, age 21 of Newark was detained by security for attempting to leave the store without paying for several items. He was arrested, taken into custody and later released after being charged on a summons.

April 5 - Shoplifting; At ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Theft and Burglary Reported

South Orange Police Blotter as of April 19

Theft - An East Orange resident reported that on Tuesday, April 17, at approximately 9:20 a.m., actor(s) unknown stole some tools from a construction site on Valley Street. The stolen tools, valued at over $500.00 were a Makita brand drill set and electrical saw.

Burglary to Auto - An Irvington resident reported that on Thursday, April ...

41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance Held on Sunday

April 19, 2018

MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance was held on Sunday, April 15. The march assembled in Spiotta Park on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood, and was called to order with the blowing of the shofar.

Local elected officials who attended included Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis, and ...

Water Main Break on Baker Street in Maplewood Wednesday Morning

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Maplewood police reported receiving a call from a commuter on his way to work who noticed a small geyser of water in front of 34 Baker St., next to the driveway to the Maplewood Country Club. 

According to Maplewood police, they requested assistance from New Jersey American Water to shut off the water, but as of 7:10 a.m., ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, April 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, April 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Maplewood Memorial Library, Maplewood

Spring Book Sale - Friends of Maplewood Library

Education Giving Back Other


Sat, April 21, 12:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Millburn Library Annual Book Sale

Essex County Announces Partnership with Nine Local Charitable Organizations

April 20, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Essex County will participating in nine special partnerships to increase awareness about and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Arc of Essex County, the New Jersey Children Alliance, Stop for Nikhil, The Valerie Fund, the Arthritis Foundation, the Saint Barnabas Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and ...

Kiburi Tucker Sentenced to 38 Months in Federal Prison

NEWARK, NJ - Kiburi Tucker, a longtime friend of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the business partner of a Newark woman who admitted to tax evasion last year, was sentenced today to more than three years in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion, federal authorities announced. 

Kiburi D. Tucker, 43, of Newark, pleaded guilty in November before Chief U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares after ...

Union Police Arrest Spa Workers for Prostitution

April 20, 2018

UNION, NJ – Union police arrested a man and four women in connection with a prostitution business at a local spa on Morris Avenue.

In September 2017, Union police made arrests at the Birchwood Oils – Essential Oil Rub Treatments -  when they discovered it to be a place of prostitution. 

According to police, they continued to monitor the location and discovered that the ...

Atlantic Health Among Six Regional Health Systems Forming Clinical Research Consortium

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Seeking to bring clinical trials and innovations in medicine even closer to home, Atlantic Health System, parent company of Summit's Overlook Medical Center, is now part of a group of six regional health systems that are founding members of a nonprofit clinical research consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research (PIER Consortium) ...

New Jersey-Area Diaper Bank Selected as Recipient of National Funds For Change Grant

April 20, 2018

Moms Helping Moms Foundation, the community-based not-for-profit organization that distributes diapers to babies living in low-wage families in the New Jersey area, has been selected as one of 23 national recipients of a 2018 Funds for Change grant awarded by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).

“NDBN’s Funds for Change grants help diaper banks reach more families by investing ...

Two South Orange Residents to Be Honored by Temple B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills

South Orange residents Charles Oransky and Fredric Smith will be honored by Temple B'nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, at a gala celebration commemorating the synagogue’s 170th anniversary, May 10. The evening's theme, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, pays tribute to the temple's past presidents, the Interfaith Hospitality Network’s founding organizers and the ...

South Mountain YMCA Honors Eighth Grader Who Organized Massive Food and Clothes Drive

A trip to Manhattan with the South Mountain YMCA shaped Daniel Goldsmith’s life. “As we headed toward Bryant Park, I saw a homeless man lying under some scaffolding, and I remember he had a sign saying `Please give me money … I am starving.’ ”

The experience moved Goldsmith to action: For his Eagle Scout project, the South Orange Middle School eighth grader ...